Filed In: Designers

SMALL BUSINESSES THAT WE LOVE

We love the shopping local movement, the passion behind startups, and the creativity and hard work it takes to build and operate your own business. Today we are sharing three online businesses owned by three ladies who are all extremely talented, dedicated, and lovely on the inside and out! Nichole, Grace, and Elizabeth were so kind when partnering for this post and we are honored to be sharing their stories. Below are images of Lo’s new favorite things from each other their online shops + details on their one-of-a-kind businesses. Scroll down to learn about Dear Heart Designs, Hello Grace, and Pretty Smitten!

Dear Heart DesignsDear heart designs // a small business that we love

When we first learned about Dear Heart Designs, Lo and I were instantly in love with the spiritual message behind the gorgeous jewelry. Think simplistic gold jewelry with inspiring words to encourage you daily. Here are a few words from Nichole, the designer of Dear Heart Designs– “We are Christians and our mission is to have God’s light shine through our pieces and customers and spark conversation with strangers with the hope that somebody who did not know Jesus before that moment, can hear about Him and find His love. So go, spread the love.” These words speak so deeply to us, and we hope they do the same for you! Sharing stories of what the Lord is doing in our lives and in the lives of those close to us, is truly one of our favorite things to do. We love that Nichole’s jewelry does just that- it serves as a symbol of something so GREAT and worthy of sharing. Just the thought of sharing the Lord’s love through gorgeous jewelry makes us smile!

Follow Nichole on Instagram.

Here are a few of our favorites: one / two / three

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Hello, GraceHello Grace tees // a small business that we love

Hello, the coolest tees ever. First of all, we are HUGE fans of graphic tees. They are so comfy and casual– two things that we are all about — not to mention unique and they make quite a statement. Lo loves this Forever & Ever tee, and my favorite is for sure this one– it reminds me of my favorite song, It Is Well With My Soul. Here is a note about Hello, Grace: “Hello, Grace is dedicated to create thoughtful and well-designed products that are both faith based and fashionable.  We are inspired by the goodness of God and desire to convey a positive message about who He is through our designs.” Amen to that. She had us at faith based and fashionable. Just like spreading God’s love through jewelry, the ability to spread the Word and wear reminders of the Lord’s faithfulness through tees is so brilliant, and something we fully support.

Follow Grace on Instagram.

Here are a few of our favorites: one / two / three

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Pretty Smitten
Pretty Smitten // a small business that we love

Enter, Pretty Smitten– the cutest Etsy shop of all time. When we first peeked at Elizabeth’s shop, we were totally amazed at how many cute things there were. And fun fact- we just saw here that a website + blog are coming soon! From organizational trays to stationary and even phone cases, Pretty Smitten has it all. Here is a note from Elizabeth- “Opened in 2009, the shop is all about the little things that make you smile.The lucite tray on your desk, the coasters on your bar cart, your family stationery, the case on your iPhone. Classic patterns, fresh colors, and all with your monogram. Those important letters that identify you and your family.” She is so spot on about little things that make you smile- those are such special things in our hearts. Things that you use everyday should put a smile on your face and that is just what Pretty Smitten items do!

Follow Elizabeth on Instagram.

Here are a few of our favorites: one / two / three

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*Thank you to Nichole, Grace, and Elizabeth for partnering with us for this post!

All items were gifted.

A brand we love- DOEN

A brand we love- DOEN

Meet DOEN. We fell in love with this brand over on Instagram– their feed is so laid-back and effortlessly cool, just like their clothes. The brand aesthetic and designs truly embrace a lifestyle of ease and comfort and we love the sound of that. We are especially loving this dress, this poncho, and these gladiators– all of which can go from weekday to weekend so easily.

DOEN definitely has us inspired to live each day in comfort and style, and most importantly, with grace.

A brand we love- DOEN

A brand we love- DOEN

images: 1 / 2 / 3

Real(real) Love

Today I want to chat about The RealReal. I am always surprised by how many people don’t know about this chic online shopping destination. It is a luxury consignment store that sells second-hand designer clothes that are 100% authentic + still in great condition.

I am a big believer in consignment. Each season I edit my closet which results in some separating from clothes that no longer fit my body, taste, or lifestyle. Not only does this benefit me because I am getting rid of things that no longer ‘fit’ with who I am, but it also opens up the opportunity for these once loved clothes to bring joy to the second owner. It honestly makes me smile to think of passing clothes on to someone that 1) will get a great deal and 2) will find joy from something that once brought me joy. I consign my clothes at a local Annapolis store + ThredUp, but I do shop at The RealReal.

I have had tremendous success scoring on cute rag & bone items, as well as Elizabeth & James. I’ve also been eyeing something from Theory that I just adore. They have amazing designer brands and guarantee authenticity. And let’s be real-no pun intended-the prices are truly INCREDIBLE. The RealReal is also so honest about the condition of their products and items arrive clean and ‘like new’. Each product page has a description of the condition that it is in. For example- pristine, excellent, very good, and good. I have bought things that are pristine and excellent as well as very good. And honestly, the ‘very good’ product still looks perfect and never worn in my opinion. This speaks to the high standard that The RealReal has when accepting and selling the items they receive from consigners. Another bonus is that most of their items are returnable for a credit card refund if it doesn’t work- just read the return notes for each item first.

Creating an account is free & The RealReal lets you favorite items that you have your eye on. Just click the heart button on something that you are ‘obsessing’ over and it will be added to your favorites. I do have to say though, when one of your obsessions sells out before you decide to buy it, it is pretty heart breaking. Therefore, if you are really loving something, be sure to scoop it up before someone else does!

Below are a few favorites right now on The RealReal. Enjoy and I cannot wait to hear what you think! Here’s to giving clothes a happy second home.
The RealReal

rag & bone sweater

The RealReal

THEORY shorts

The RealReal

Alice + Olivia button up

The RealReal

rag & bone dress

The RealReal

Elizabeth & James vest

The Real Real

Elizabeth & James crop top

The RealReal

rag & bone booties

And even more RealReal loves below-

10 Questions with Cara + Vanessa of Vetta

10 questions with Cara + Vanessa of Vetta

We are so excited to introduce you to Cara Bartlett + Vanessa van Zyl- the brilliant, hardworking, and fashionable women behind the capsule collection, Vetta. Made up of only five items, the Vetta collection is capable of putting together 30 outfits- 30 minimal yet so chic, outfits. Lauren and I fell in love with the brand for it’s style, but in reality Vetta is so much more than that. After learning that all of the items are made in the USA using eco-friendly materials in responsible factories, we were forever hooked. Read on to get to know Cara + Vanessa and learn more about the Vetta lifestyle. 

1.For our readers that haven’t heard of Vetta, can you tell tell them the mission + focus of the brand?

Cara: We felt like so many women (like us) were constantly buying clothes and still felt like they had nothing to wear. We were also really passionate about human rights, and felt like many of the ethical fashion brands were not appealing to everyday women because they either had a really specific aesthetic or were too expensive. So we created VETTA, a minimal 5 piece capsule collection that you can wear 30 different ways. It’s made responsibly in the US from eco-friendly fabrics. And we’re selling it at wholesale prices.

2. Tell us how you came up with the idea.

Vanessa: We wanted to create a responsibly made clothing line that was stylish, affordable, and versatile. With the rise of capsule wardrobes, we loved the idea of creating pieces that could mix and match to create multiple outfits. We also wanted to make each piece convertible, so you can wear them different ways, and provide more value for the customer. For example, you can wear the v neck on the blouse in front or in back, and the long vest can also be worn as a dress.

3. Have you always been interested in fashion?

Cara: Since I was a young girl, I’ve been sewing my own clothes, so I’ve always had a love for fashion. I thought that it wasn’t a practical career, so I went in another direction for a while, but eventually my heart led me back to it. I just love the idea of helping women find clothing that makes them feel beautiful and allows them to express themselves.

Vanessa: Yes, Always!  One of my favorite past times as long as I can remember has been opening up my closet and putting an outfit together.  In high school and college, I didn’t have much money to spend on clothes, so thrift shopping became my thing.  Cara and I use to raid thrift stores for treasures other people threw away.  We would buy shirts and reconstruct them into dresses or blouses, making ourselves unique pieces that always got other people asking what we were wearing.

4. We LOVE the collection. What is your favorite piece and why? 

Vanessa: My favorite piece, yikes, that’s a hard one.  I am going to have to go with the tunic because I love layering!  It can be worn so many different ways, under, over, tied up or down, backwards, forwards.  Its so simple yet modern chic.

Cara: Hmmm I think if I had to choose one item it would be the culottes. They are so comfortable and flattering. You just slip them on because they have an elastic waist in the back, and they’re high waisted. Also, I always buy crop tops and then have nothing to wear them with, so these are perfect!!

10 questions with Cara + Vanessa of Vetta

5. Minimalism is a big topic of conversation in fashion + in home organization. Do you consider yourself a minimalist?

Cara: I started doing capsule wardrobes recently. It has forced me to think about how the pieces in my closet worked together as a whole. I have loved the experience, and finally feel like I can finally stop saying “I have nothing to wear.”  I don’t know if I will always strictly follow the capsule wardrobe principle, but what I’ve learned from it will change the way I shop forever. I am definitely more of a minimalist in that area now.

Vanessa: Minimalism is something that my husband and I have challenged ourselves in, in every area of our lives.  We live in South Africa where my husband runs an NGO, called Aleph Surf.  We are constantly challenged with the fact that many people live on so little and they are some of the most content and happy people you will ever meet!   When you’re around people that live in simple environments, people that wear and eat the same thing almost daily – you’re confronted with the possibility that they might know something you don’t. We have found that giving is better than receiving, and having less is more. We recycle everything we own and give away what we do not need.

6. What does your wardrobe currently look like? 5 items in your closet that are constantly in rotation? 

Cara: My winter wardrobe consists of a lot of black, white, and grey. It sounds boring, but I love black – and I mix in different textures and prints to keep it interesting. Right now (since it’s still cold on the east coast), my go-tos are a cropped cashmere sweater, a camel coat, high waisted black jeans, a button up denim skirt, and a chunky knit turtleneck sweater.

Vanessa: A friend taught me years ago that I should only buy pieces that add 3-5 more outfits to my wardrobe. There are about 20 items in my closet I wear constantly, and each piece can be mixed and matched with the others.  My favorite go-to’s are probably a white scoop neck classic t-shirt, a boho dress, dark skinny jeans, an oversized black sweater, and my army jacket from a thrift store.

7. What is your goal for Vetta? Do you have a long-term plan or are you seeing how the journey unfolds?

Cara: If this first collection goes well, we’re planning to do a fall capsule collection, which we’re really excited about. We want to become the go-to brand for building a thoughtful and versatile wardrobe.

10 questions with Cara + Vanessa of Vetta

8. What do you love to do in your free time?

Vanessa: I love running and wine tasting with my husband and friends! South Africa is known worldwide for their wines and some of the most breath taking scenery.

Cara: If I’m not working, I love hosting dinner parties, drinking wine with my girlfriends, traveling with my husband, and hanging out with my cat Moose.

9. How do you find balance between work + personal life? 

Cara: Right now, we’re working really hard to launch the new brand, so we’re definitely heavy on the work side of things. But we love it! I do always make time for certain important weekly events, like my women’s small group on Tuesday nights, and a date night on the weekend with my husband. I also try to take at least 10 minutes each morning to sit quietly and center myself, before jumping into the craziness of the day.

Vanessa: Setting up boundaries and priorities in the beginning of our business has set us up for success.  And my husband and I constantly get away – we love adventures – exploring nature, slowing down, and just being with each other and our Rhodesian ridgeback Nala.

10. Do you have a favorite quote or daily reminder? If so, what is it? 

Cara: I think about this verse often, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good…To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Vanessa: “There is nothing truly more artistic than to love people.” Vincent Van Gogh

10 questions with Cara + Vanessa of Vetta

Reem Acra: Urban Sensibility

Reem Acra’s dreamy Fall 2013 collection was inspired by her recent travels to Japan. Her collection brought the northern hemisphere to us in a palette of black, white, and bold strokes of red. Reem Acra was also inspired by abstract photographs by the artist Daido Moriyama.  Daido’s photographs of the female body in fish net stockings prompted Reem Acra to try to layer different fabrics to create a unique look for her Fall collection. There was something for the princess as well as the modernist in Reem Acra’s Fall collection. Silhouettes ranged from long and lean to luxurious and voluminous. Once again Reem Acra has managed to capture what women want to feel beautiful in.

Shop Reem Acra collections here.

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Photos courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Denim Craze: Neuw Jeans

Oh how I love denim! When someone asks me what I collect: denim. My fetish: JEANS (and sweet potatoes, duh). They maybe, just maybe, are color-coated in my closet. #embarrassingconfession.

So the point of the story is that I am a hard critic. For me to purchase a new pair of jeans, they must have the WOW factor, meaning they do not compromise on fit, color, wash, or purpose. That’s right, purpose. They must fit the occasions in your daily life, or an occasion that could possibly come up: justification 101. There is nothing like a great pair of jeans, especially those classic ones filled with memories, and I assure you Neuw Denim could be next in line.

Neuw was created by three friends (Par, Stephen, and Richard) with the same motivation: to formulate a premium, independent denim brand. The concept is derived from Par’s extensive vintage denim collection, which contains iconic pieces spanning the last 100 years of denim history. Par wears these collectibles after he alters and repairs their fit and look, a method he likes to call “Vintage Revision.” The coolest part: every Neuw jean goes through this process. The result: modern denim with traditional attention to detail, (fabulous) fit and workmanship.

My favorite pair: the low rise razor skinny in Italian army green. The most unique aspect is that they crease black!

To explore their collection, go here. Better yet, to buy, go here or here!